The Ocelated Turkey

The Ocelated Turkey

One of the most amazing species to grace the jungle of Quintana Roo, this large bird can be found walking the roads of Los Arboles, or taking short flights between trees along the dense vegetation. However big and impressive, they are completely harmless and absolutely fascinating. 

Ocellated Turkey (Meleagris ocellata) is a species native to Mexico, Belize and Guatemala, its distribution is from southeastern Mexico, northern Guatemala and the northwestern and west-central portion of Belize. In Mexico, it is restricted to northern Yucatan and Quintana Roo, the western portion of Campeche, eastern Tabasco, and northeastern Chiapas (BirdLife International, 2016).

Currently, according to the red list of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), the population trend is decreasing, cataloging it as a Nearly Threatened (NT) species.

Its natural habitat is restricted to humid and semi-humid tropical forests, although they are suffering because of deforestation in the area. Even in these areas, where the species is also protected (Calakmul and Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserves), the ocellated turkey is rare.

Characteristics

The body feathers of both sexes are a mixture of bronze and iridescent green. The tail feathers are, in both sexes, bluish-grey with a blue-grey eye-shaped circle with a blue-bronze spot near the tip, which is topped by a bright gold tip. 

  • The spots, for which the ocellated turkey gets its name, lead some scientists to believe that this bird is more closely related to the peafowl than the northern turkey. 

Both sexes have a blue head with some orange or red nodules (warts), more protuberant in males. The males also have blue flesh in the form of a crown with nodules, similar to those on the neck. 

  • During the mating season this crown widens and becomes brighter and with more accentuated yellow-orange colors. The eye is surrounded by a ring of bright red skin, which becomes more apparent in males during the mating season.

Ocellated turkeys are smaller than any of the wild North American species, with adult females weighing 4 kg (kilograms) before ovipositing and around 3 kg the rest of the year, and adult males weighing between 5 and 6 kg. during the mating season.